In the years before fashion creative director Yasmin Yusuf worked with Deià’s Moredesign to make her dream home a reality, she gathered together inspiration in the form of a collection of interior design magazine tear sheets. Little did she know that hidden in one of these was a secret connection that would result in her meeting More and making gorgeous Can Anita her home.
Yasmin first came to Deià in 2000 and fell in love with the village immediately. As she explains, ‘I’d travelled a lot because of my work in fashion – including Paris, Milan and New York for shows – but I’d simply never been anywhere like here. I still can’t quite explain it, but Deià instantly felt like somewhere I wanted to spend more time.’
For a while, Yasmin had known she wanted to create a home in the Mediterranean. This wouldn’t be a property she just used for holidays. It would be a real home.
After buying Can Anita in 2011, Yasmin came to Deià and spent time in one room while she planned what she would do with the property. Can Anita was made up of two traditional houses that had been knocked together. Consequently, it had around 10 rooms and two staircases.
On the walls of the one room in which she was living, Yasmin created mood boards from the collection of tear sheets and began figuring out how to make a dream into reality. One mood board sparked her imagination more than any other.
This showed the extraordinary home of fashion show producer Alexandre de Betak, best known for his work with international designers. And this is where things start to become a little strange.
Yasmin takes up the story. ‘One day I was walking through the village, when I heard a guy talking in a strong south London accent. He turned out to be from a part of London near where I’m from. We got chatting and he told me he was doing decorating work in the village. I asked him if he could give my house a coat of white paint just while I figured out what do with it.
‘When the guy saw my mood boards, he pointed to the photos of Alexandre de Betak’s house and said “I did the beams for that. It’s just around the corner from here. I know the designers if you’d like to meet them.”
‘If they’ve done Alexandre’s house, there’s no way they’ll want to do mine, I said. But I’d love to meet them. The guy arranged it and Manuel and Oro turned up.
They knew the house and Oro said “We’ve always known this place has so much potential. We’d love to work with you.” I was so honoured. I never thought in a million years the designers of Alexandre de Betak’s house would do mine. I still can’t quite believe it, 11 years later.’
At that first meeting, Oro sketched out what he thought More could do with Can Anita and, Yasmin says, ‘I just knew there was something different about Oro and Manuel. I’ve noticed this about people with exceptional talent and vision. They’re just different. Also, from my work in fashion, I’d learned that it normally takes two people with the right balance between them to deliver outstanding creativity. Manuel and Oro had that. They also had, and have, an incredible passion for what they do. I knew when I first started working with them that they were special and were going to be hugely successful.’
More was also comfortable working with Yasmin from a distance, with her in London and them in Deià.
As Yasmin is happy to admit, the vision for transforming Can Anita was entirely More’s. They opened up the rooms and bedrooms on the ground, first and second floor and took out a staircase. Alongside a vision of how to redefine space in Can Anita, Moredesign had abundant technical expertise.
‘More used Moroccan plasterers,’ Yasmin explains. ‘They would experiment with different kinds of floor finishes and did things like deliberately make some of the existing very square openings in the house imperfect but beautifully done. It was fascinating to be around them.’
Apart from this unique way of working, Yasmin was surprised by the extent to which Moredesign surrounds itself with local craftsmen, enabling things like stone and metal work to be done locally. She was delighted to discover the existence of huge salvage yards on the island where More found fixtures like ancient stone sinks and old copper baths. Hardly anything needed to be brought in from the Spanish mainland.
More also handled the landscaping at Can Anita and Yasmin was impressed by their skill in navigating the law to enable them to create what is now a beautiful garden.
During the process of creating Can Anita, Yasmin, Manuel and Oro became friends. ‘They’re wonderful men,’ she says. ‘I believe Can Anita was the first project over which they had total control and, in the early days of More, they would ask if they could show the house to potential clients. I was honoured to do so. I’ve also never hesitated to recommend them to other people.’
The way Yasmin connected with Moredesign is a fine example of the kind of synchronicity that doesn’t surprise those of us who know the village. For her, the fact that she felt instantly at home here is part of the reason why she is committed to doing what she can to help the village and its community.
‘This is a unique place,’ she says, ‘positioned perfectly between the mountains and the sea. There’s also a lovely balance between people like me with a background in the creative industry and spiritual people. I’d like to think the village will always be special. I’m doing what I can to keep its spirit flourishing.’